Ocean City Today
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Resort officials provide some guidance on Third Street park

By Katie Tabeling | Nov 23, 2017

(Nov. 24, 2017) The Ocean City Recreation and Parks department finally has a starting point for the Third Street recreation complex, now that city officials spoke out on which amenities they want to see included.

Results of a survey showed that most city officials want to keep some open space in the park, expand the skate park and to maintain at least one tennis court.

“This is not the end-all, be-all, this just gives me a look at what the council is interested in seeing there,” Recreation and Parks Director Susan Petito said. “At this point, the goal is to take these ideas and work with an architect to provide renderings of options how this park could look.”

After the three councilmen who constitute the Recreation and Parks Commission repeatedly failed to make any hard decisions on the downtown park, a survey was sent to the mayor and full council in September.

The two current tennis courts have been at the heart of debate, as construction for the Second Street tram facility in January will eliminate both of them. Ocean City is required to rebuild one court that was funded through the Department of Natural Resources Open Space Program.

Five city officials voted to replace one tennis court, and four voted to build one within the year. Five officials said they would prefer the courts to be constructed on the east block, while three people said they would “like it wherever it fits best.”

Another hot topic was the skate park, as local skaters such as Brad Hoffman advocated using the Dew Tour bowl in the design. Six officials were in favor of upgrading the skate facility, and four liked the idea of using the “monster” skate bowl.

Mayor Rick Meehan and the full council agreed that “open space for people is important.” But five officials were in favor of using that space for lesser athletic endeavors, instead of creating a designated field.

Although the survey showed the elected officials were split on whether to reduce the number of basketball courts, Meehan passionately argued to keep them during last week’s capital improvement plan session.

“I felt like the council had more appreciation for the courts after that, because he’s right: it’s the most-used amenities we have,” Petito said.

All city officials favored maintaining a playground and most leaned toward providing an “all-inclusive” playground to provide a play area for all individuals with disabilities.

The mayor and council split on whether to add exercise equipment in the park plan.

Five officials wanted to provide a designated dog run area. The only dog playground at 94th Street is smaller than guidelines suggest, Petito said, so this could be a welcome addition.

Most officials also favored adding pathways around the park, widening the bayside Boardwalk and establishing electric and water availability for Tall Ship events.

The Recreational and Parks Departments will take these findings and apply them to a design. Last week, the city informally agreed to allocate funding to hire an architect for the project.

“My understanding is that it will be pay-as-you go … and this could be put off for other expenses in the future,” Petito said. “Certainly, safety is a high priority and I can understand that. We could even do this in phases over a period of time. It’s too early to tell.”

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